Smokey has had three days off and it really shows. Sunday he wasn’t worked at all, but was forced to come in from the pasture, Monday I was sick, Tuesday is our scheduled day of rest which brings us to Wednesday. I brought him in from the pasture with a carrot bribed to minimize all his stopping and donkeying attitude. He was much more compliant with my wishes since he knew I had one with me, but he still stopped a few times to furiously snap at flies. He REALLY doesn’t like them. I’m starting to wonder about a fly sheet for him.
The round pen had been collapsed so the arena could be dragged, which made the footing much better than it had been. I decided that maybe we would try longeing without the round pen today and see how it goes. I did a quick curry over him (he had rolled in the newly found creek and was disgusting) and admitted defeat and applied fly spray on top of the thin clay coating.
Speaking of his new found freedom – the gate to the lower pasture that has a creek through it was open when I got to the barn last night. I thought for sure I would never find Smokey, but he was in his usual spot in the pasture grazing within eyeshot of Old Man Ice. Hopefully he’s been a little more kind to Ice recently. It amused me that I kept thinking “Oh God, he’s never been out there, he’ll kill himself on the creek/hill/tree/fence/etc in the other pasture.” I am paranoid and sometimes it’s better that things like that happen without me knowing.
Anyway, we were in the arena, sans round pen, and I pushed him out on the line. He was much more active and punky than he has been right off the bat. He was also more apt to cut the circle in and make nasty faces at me and act like he was going to kick. I decided that since we haven’t worked in three days, perhaps we should save our in-arena-without-round-pen longeing for another day. I made Smokey follow me around to move the panels back into place which took a LOT of work and a lot of patience making him move around to accommodate me. He didn’t spook, however. He pretty much just sniffed the panels as they wobbled into place and just stared at them.
Once the round pen was back up, he was somewhat more compliant. We trotted both directions, but I could tell I wasn’t going to get much out of him tonight. This is something that I’m starting to worry about. Is my chicken-ness leading to him not having a work ethic? Am I not pushing hard enough? I think he’s becoming a bit full of himself and the whole kicking at me while on the longeline and not willing to canter are going to have to stop. Hopefully, the weather will hold for enough of the weekend that I can get some good work in on him and start really making some progress. I’ll probably even call up my mustang-affiliated friends and get them out to see what their thoughts are on him (and me).
I had my new saddle pad with me (this one) and I tossed it onto him a few times until I didn’t get so much as a flinch out of him. I had brought my western saddle down, but he was so foul looking walking around with the saddle pad on that I thought he might actually get angry if I tried with the saddle. So we just moved around with the saddle pad on. It was really a light workout, but I felt like pushing it last night was not in my best interest with few people at the barn if I got in trouble and it was hooooot and humid. I think Smokey is still adjusting to that. It’s truly disgusting out right now.
I walked him up to the wash rack area where Misty was being hosed off so he could stare at her and get more used to being up there. He ate some grass by the picnic table and then I took him back to the arena for a few minutes to push him around and try to build on Jenn’s crossover wins on Saturday. He was actually pretty compliant and I can really see a difference in his willingness to move off pressure both on his front end and back end. I only asked for movement off the front at the girth line and he moved pretty willingly, so he’s definitely making progress there. He’s very much into making sour faces when he doesn’t like something which may need to be addressed at some point.
When I turned Smokey out, the farm owners were out picking raspberries just on the opposite side of the pasture fence. Smokey walked out confidently until he got about 10 feet away, took a hard left and avoided them at a distance and then stopped. He saw their little dog was out and wanted to take a look so he walked right up to the fence and sniffed at her. She came under the fence and trotted around with Smokey, nose in the ground, following behind. He clearly is just enamored with this dog. I really hope he doesn’t have grand illusions of doing it harm, but he seems to just be curious about her for now. It’s kind of cute that he has a pet dog.
So tonight I have grand plans to go up and see him and make him do all sorts of things, but I think my plans are going to get thwarted by the “strong storms producing harmful straight-line winds and large hail” from Derecho or whatever we’re calling this particular weather pattern. They’re supposed to move in right around commute time and settle in until midnight, so I may be stuck at home for the evening. All the better to get my chores done there, right? I’ll make time to educate Smokey this weekend as much as I can.
Since I didn’t take any photos last night (Smokey wasn’t feeling it), I’ll share some of the near-complete tack “room” from last night.